MOSCOW, May 3 (UPI) -- Russia is planning to pull its main military force out of the Central Asian and former Soviet republic of Tajikistan, Ekho Moskvy radio said Monday.
"A decision is in the offing to withdraw the 201st Russian Motor Rifle Division from Tajikistan, according to what we have been told by well-informed diplomatic circles in Moscow," Ekho Moskvy said, according to a British Broadcasting Corp. monitoring report.
Mikhail Margelov head of the Committee of International Affairs of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, told Ekho Moskvy that the division, which has been deployed in Tajikistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union, could now be withdrawn as Tajik security forces were able to handle the challenges on their own.
"It is evident that the Tajik security forces and the subunits that are tasked with combating drug trafficking have grown in strength over the past few years," Margelov said.
Russia supports the Tajik government against Islamic extremist forces who are seeking to topple it.